Sport : Football

Transfer Window: winners & losers

3rd September 2013, 02:31pm

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After a record-breaking summer of spending, the transfer window is over. For a few months. Here, we make a snap judgement on the clubs who've done the best - and worst - of the summer business.



On the field, Liverpool have started the season with three solid, professional but perhaps unspectacular victories. It neatly mirrors a good summer for Brendan Rodgers who, a year into the job, appears to have identified areas in need of improvement and has done so without the reckless splurging of Liverpool's chequered recent past.

Simon Mignolet is a fine goalkeeper, Kolo Toure already looks an inspired bit of free-transfer business, while a series of low-cost and loan arrivals present minimal risk.

The only significant cash outlay came in bringing in the powerful PSG defender Mamadou Sakho, a centre-back who can cover left-back and looks another shrewd addition.

Plenty of expensive deadwood has been removed from the squad, with the cherry on top the club's expert handling of the Luis Suarez situation. The Uruguayan stays and is apparently now quite happy to be doing so.

Liverpool 11/8 for a top-four finish


Daniel Levy: the man who sold a player and bought a squad.

Tottenham have had a rollercoaster summer that ended with Gareth Bale's world-record move to Real Madrid.

Losing the league's best player is an unfortunate way to end a summer that had begun with a firm 'not for sale' message.

But in between those two events Spurs played a blinder. Director of football Franco Baldini must take plenty of the credit for a stellar list of acquisitions as the White Hart Lane hierarchy looked to replace Bale even before his departure, long resigned to, was confirmed. Not once, not twice, but three times Tottenham broke their transfer record. First came in the highly-rated Brazil midfielder Paulinho after an impressive Confederations Cup showing, then perennial 20-goal-a-season striker Roberto Soldado and finally and most impressively - and here Baldini's influence surely cannot be understated - Roma's Argentina forward Erik Lamela for £30million.

With Etienne Capoue also arriving to bolster Tottenham's already formidable strength in the middle of the park, Christian Eriksen came in from Ajax to provide the finesse to go with the pace and power.

It's an exciting, heady mix that could produce stunning results when the new recruits gel. Question marks remain at the back, though, where Vlad Chiriches comes in from Steaua Bucharest to replace Steven Caulker and much depends on Younes Kaboul's fitness and Danny Rose's ability to prove himself a worthy first-choice left-back after returning from a year on loan with Sunderland.

Tottenham 6/4 for a top-four finish


For so long Arsenal's transfer window appeared to be self-parody. Constant talk of untold riches to spend, and the only arrival an unproven and largely unknown young French talent on a free transfer. Even the shrewd return of Mathieu Flamini didn't much improve the mood among the Emirates faithful, coming in as he did to replace, well, Mathieu Flamini five years too late.

Then on deadline day everything changed with the single standout piece of business of the summer.

With Bale's arrival at the Bernabeu serving to leave the Real Madrid squad overstaffed to the tune of at least on Galactico, Mesut Ozil became available and Arsenal swooped to sign the German playmaker in a £40million-plus deal that shatters the Gunners' record.

It's a vast sum of money, and on the kind of player Arsenal don't conspicuously lack. But it's still money well spent. Ozil is a world-class operator and an absolute assist machine. It would be no surprise come season's end to see him hailed as the Premier League's best player.

Ozil has also already caused a discernible shift in mood, not only among Gunners but among their rivals. As a statement of intent, it takes some beating.

It doesn't paper over every crack. Nicklas Bendtner remains on the payroll and a great deal now rests on Olivier Giroud continuing his fine start to the season up front. But for x-factor and excitement alone, Arsenal deserve their place in the winners' section for bringing a world-class player to the Premier League while at his peak.

Arsenal 12/1 for Premier League title


A smaller-scale version of Tottenham's window in many ways as Everton drew a premium price for a star player and reinvested shrewdly to ensure the squad was strengthened despite the high-profile departure.

While the £27.5million received for Marouane Fellaini from Manchester United breaks no world records, there's little doubt which side got the better end of the deal.

And Everton have recruited wisely. James McCarthy was among the most consistent performers in the division last season despite Wigan's eventual relegation, while Gareth Barry brings plenty of experience. The real eye-catcher, though, is the season-long lean deal for Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgium striker was so impressive at West Brom last season and surely remains surplus to requirements at Chelsea only due to Jose Mourinho's irrational fear of strikers.

This promised to be a difficult summer of change for Everton after David Moyes' departure, but in holding on to Leighton Baines and minimising the effect of Fellaini's departure, the Toffees end it with plenty of cause for renewed optimism.

Everton 4/1 for top-six finish


Among the Premier League's lesser lights, Norwich and Southampton have produced the standout business - while new boys Cardiff have also made some waves - but it's Norwich who get the nod here for the quality and quantity of their work.

They were quick off the blocks, too, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel's arrival from Sporting announced before the season was over. Gary Hooper and Johan Elmander also came in to boost the frontline, while Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond will be expected to make things happen for the Canaries behind the strikers.

With the experienced Martin Olsson joining Javier Garrido, who has made his loan switch to Carrow Road permanent, Norwich have quietly but effectively improved their options all over the pitch. A fine summer's work.

Norwich 7/2 for top-half finish


Manchester United

It's not so much the results of the champions' summer business as the manner of it that sets alarm bells ringing.

In his long spell at Everton, David Moyes proved to be a superb manager when he had little money available. But what's the use of that when money is plentiful?

United have spent their summer shambling around in pursuit of one target after another, with none coming off until a desperate last-ditch move for a player who could have been signed for considerably less considerably earlier.

Fellaini is not a disastrous signing, although he is undoubtedly an overpriced one, and does provide a solution to United's long-standing problems in the middle of the park. But the fact United waited until so late to finally do that deal shows he is not the ideal solution.It is not all doom and gloom at United. Wayne Rooney remains and showed against Chelsea that the Red Devils can count on his commitment, and this squad won the title last season.

But this summer was about more for Manchester United. The end of an era. By appointing Sir Alex Ferguson's anointed successor in David Moyes, the succession planning was clear. The king is dead, long live the king.

But the statement of intent, the signing to show that Manchester United were still a big deal even after the retirement of British football's most successful manager, has failed to materialise despite a summer of increasingly desperate trying, one contrasted by the comings and going at their perceived title rivals.

The perception of Manchester United has already changed. The brand is weakened by Ferguson's departure. An uninspiring summer leaves Moyes with a monumental task to change that.

Man United 4/1 to finish outside top four


"Judge me on my signings," said Joe Kinnear in a bid to placate disbelieving Newcastle fans after he returned to the club as director of football.

After a summer in which Newcastle have been the only Premier League club not to bring in a single new first-team player on a permanent deal, the Toon Army are still waiting for that chance.

It's been a horrible summer as a squad in dire need of strengthening after last season's disappointing returns in the league has seen only Loic Remy, on loan for the season, come through the doors at St James' Park.

Inaction and dallying saw the Magpies' search for shiny new signings come up empty despite Kinnear's bulging book of contacts.

If you stand still at this level you can find yourself going backwards very quickly. A nervous winter of downward-glancing awaits on Tyneside.

Newcastle 5/1 to be relegated


If Newcastle's summer has been one of baffling, damaging inactivity, then Sunderland's Paolo Di Canio experiment surely shows the dangers of going too far the other way.

There appears little coherent planning to Sunderland's summer activity beyond the fact there is a lot of it. It looks a recipe for disaster, albeit a recipe that doesn't contain tomato ketchup.

Sitting here judging a transfer window the day after its conclusion is something of a fool's errand and this could look incredibly foolish as the Black Cats' motley collection of new arrivals suddenly gel together into a cohesive unit far greater than the sum of its parts. It's a risk I'm willing to take.

Sunderland 2/1 to be relegated

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